Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Satisfaction - Prologue and Chapter One

This is the opening to my novel Satisfaction.

How do you begin a story?  At the beginning is as good a place as any, I suppose.  That might sound a bit of a ridiculous statement but there’s more than one way you can go about these things.  Some people like to start at the beginning and work their way straight through to the end.  Others like to use flashback, and that’s generally the method that I’ve used to tell this story.  It might seem a bit disjointed here and there but all I ask is that you listen to what I have to stay.  I know it might not be the greatest work of literature ever committed to paper, but then its not intended to be.
I’d better warn you now that there’s sex, swearing and violence in this story.  If those sort of things appeal to you, great.  If they don’t, I suggest you find something else warmer and fuzzier to read.  There’s not much warm or fuzzy about my story.
That said, this isn’t a story about sex and violence.  It just has sex and violence in it.  This story is about choices, and dealing with the consequences of those choices.  Whether I made good or bad choices, well, I’ll leave that decision up to you.
Oh, one last thing that’s important to remember, because I’m sure there will be points where it will be easy to forget, and I don’t want you to.

Everything I’m going to tell you in this story is true.

My name is Scott North.
I’m nineteen years old.  Before you start thinking what does a nineteen year old have to say about life, hear me out.  I know it may not seem like a long enough time to have lived and have anything meaningful to say, but I’ve already got plenty of mileage on the clock, so to speak.  Some of the things I’ve done have been good; some of them not so good.  I’m not looking for judgement, or redemption.  I’m just want to make sure I’m not forgotten.  That’s why I’m sitting here speaking like some demented person into this Dictaphone and hoping it’s not the last thing I ever do.
In case I’m not making a whole lot of sense, let me give you some details.  I’m sitting in a room on the eleventh floor of a hotel in Copenhagen.  It’s June the fifth, and its nine thirty five in the evening.  At eleven o’clock, I’m supposed to be meeting a man called Lars to give him the briefcase that’s sitting on the floor beside me.  I have no idea what’s inside it.  I don’t want to know what’s inside it.  I don’t know who this Lars guy is.  I don’t even know what he looks like.  All I know is he’s coming to this room and I have to give him the case, and then he’s going to give me something in return.
I guess I haven’t really explained how an English kid has wound up sitting in a Danish hotel room waiting to do some kind of trade with a man I’ve never met in my life.  To tell the truth, I’m starting to wonder how I got myself into this mess. because believe me, this is a mess.  I’m not here because I want to be, I promise you that.  But I reckon I’ve just about got enough time to tell you how I’ve ended up here before Lars gets here.  It won’t take long, I promise.

We need to rewind about ten months, to the previous summer.  I was living in Leeds.  That’s in the north of England, if you don’t know.  Never been? Don’t go; you’re not missing much.  Actually that’s not fair, it’s a great city, its just somewhere I’ve seen enough of.  I’d just finished college and was enjoying my freedom after passing my A-levels.  I’d got four passes, including Grade A biology and chemistry.  So I’m not stupid, you know.  I’d even got a place at Newcastle University, to study Biochemistry.  Sometimes I wish I’d gone, but I’ve made a promise to myself not to regret anything I do, so I don’t, even though maybe I should, if that makes sense.
See, right the way through school and college, I’d always gotten good grades without trying.  Academically, school was easy for me.  And not just that.  I’m naturally athletic; I’m good at football, and I’m a good swimmer.  I’d represented the school at both.  Saying it like that it makes me sound like the sort of guy you might love to hate and I suppose a lot people did.
Now seems as good as time as any to point out my big weakness, and that’s girls.  Really, it’s because of them that I’m here now.  If I’d been different, you know, if I’d looked different, then maybe this wouldn’t have happened.  Like most people, I tend to go on first impressions, and most people’s first impression of me is that I’m an athlete or something.  I’m really not complaining about this, believe me.  The last thing I would’ve ever wanted was to be was some sort of gimp with no chance of pulling anything except himself off.  God, if I was like that I’d shoot myself right now.  But anyway, the point I’m trying to make is, I’m an intelligent, fit, good-looking guy.  I know I must sound a right arsehole describing myself like that, but I’ve got to get the point across at the start otherwise the rest of this story isn’t going to make sense.  Oh, and to top things off, I’m well packed, if you get what I mean.  If you don’t, it’ll probably become clear as I go along.
Like I said, I was getting ready for the whole university thing, like most of my mates were.  My parents were chuffed to bits with my A-level results and so was I, to be fair because for the first time in my life I’d actually had to graft to get them.  But therein lay the problem.  Up until the last year of college, everything had been easy.  I’d never really had to try to pass my exams before that.  It just came naturally to me.  Even when I was starting to go out every weekend when I was fifteen my schoolwork hadn’t suffered, so my parents let it go.  And I never had to try with the sport.  But then, in the second year of college, when I was seventeen, things suddenly got different.  I know I chose difficult subjects but I wasn’t used to the concept of actually having to work to get the grades I was used to.  And I didn’t like it.  Suddenly I was having to stay in on a night and actually try.  I wasn’t seeing my friends, or my girlfriend Jenny.  And that started to rankle.  But I knew it was only for a few months, so I stuck it out and got what I wanted results-wise.
After that, school was out and it was back to the old ways, out drinking with my friends, clubbing, Saturday afternoon football, and plenty of time for my Jenny.  After a couple of weeks though, a nasty thought began to creep into my mind.
This wasn’t going to last.
When I went to Uni I was going to have to pull my finger out and really start to work hard.  That would mean jacking in all the fun things I liked to do.  It was partly my own fault.  I hadn’t picked some toss-off subject like Sociology or Peace Studies.  This was Biochemistry, and even by my own standards it was going to be bloody hard.  The A-levels had been like a warning shot across the bows saying ‘Hey Scott, you’re not going to have the easy life you’re used to’.  Even though I tried to ignore it, those warning shots kept flashing by in front of me and they wouldn’t go away.
It’s not that I’m lazy or idle or anything.  When I’m interested and focused I can give my all to any subject.  It’s just that I was starting to feel like I was going through the whole process for everybody else.  Jenny was going to Newcastle to study Law; she’d planned it that way so we could be together.  All my mates were heading off all over the country going to Uni as well.  And my parents were really pushing me to be the first person in the family to get a degree.  As a result of all this I was starting to feel a build up of pressure inside me that I’d never had before and that I didn’t like one little bit.

It came to a head on a hot Thursday afternoon in August.  I remember that day well.  I was meeting my mate Mike at the Cross Keys for an afternoon session, before heading into town to meet up with Jenny.  I’d gotten to the pub early so I got the drinks in and grabbed a table in the beer garden.  Mike turned up ten minutes later, his mobile phone stuck to his ear.  He saw me waving to him and walked over, making his excuses to the person on the other end of the line and hanging up as he’d sat down.
“Cheers, mate,” he said, picking up the pint that was waiting for him and taking a long gulp.  He swallowed it and let out a theatrical gasp of satisfaction.
“Fuck me, that’s nice,” he exclaimed, taking another long swig to catch up with my half-empty glass.  Mike’s a good bloke but his vocabulary would never have got him a job on kids TV.
“Who was on the phone?” I asked.
“Ah, that was Beth,” he said, sounding pleased with himself.
“Beth?” I sounded surprised and he raised his eyebrows in mock surprise at the tone of my voice.  Beth was one of the hottest girls we knew, and it was well known she was unobtainable.  Even getting her number was an achievement for Mike.
“You think Beth is out of my league?” he asked, feigning insult.
“I think Godzilla is out of your league, mate,” I told him, but that wasn’t true to be fair.  Mike was like me, a good-looking bloke, but Beth was a complete babe, and I had been chasing her myself until I’d hooked up with Jenny.
“Thank you for the vote of confidence, Scott, but for your information I am meeting Beth for a drink tomorrow night.”
“Bloody hell, miracles do happen,” I told him.
“I tell you what though,” he said, suddenly sounding all serious.  “Sometimes I can’t believe how fucking good I really am.”
“And modest too, don’t forget that,” I added, taking another swig of beer.  “So what did you do, blackmail her?”
“Fuck off,” he retorted.  “It’s just my natural wit and charm at work.”
“Oh yeah, you just ooze charisma, don’t you?”
“Well you can’t complain with your bird, can you?”  He had a point there.  Jenny was gorgeous; there was no doubt about that.
“Guess not,” I said, and took a long sip of my pint.  Mike looked at me in surprise.
“Christ, who fucking died?” he asked as I set the glass on the table.
“What do you mean?”
“Well, your face.  You were okay until I mentioned Jenny and now you look miserable as sin.  You not getting any or something?”  I laughed at that.  Not getting any with Jenny wasn’t an issue.  I shook my head.
“Well, what’s up then?” he asked.  I thought for a moment about telling him how I was feeling.  Mike was never exactly the most sensitive of guys, and what I needed then was someone to sound off to.  But then again, I wasn’t exactly spoiled for choice at that moment and he was the best I had.  Besides, I figured his direct approach might be better than me dwelling on my issues.
“I’ve been thinking about Uni,” I told him.
“What about it?”
“I don’t think I want to go.”
“Why not?  It’ll be a right fucking laugh.  Everyone knows students just get pissed and fuck around.”
“Yeah, but…” How could I explain how I felt inside to someone who thought belching the Match of the Day theme tune was the height of sophistication?  “I don’t think it’s right for me, that’s all.”
“What’s brought this on?” he asked, suddenly sounding serious.  His change in tone was reassuring; it didn’t sound like he was about to take the piss out of me.  So I told him how I felt and to my surprise and his credit, he didn’t just laugh at me.  He actually helped.  At least, it felt like it at the time.  Looking back, maybe he did more harm than good.
“Don’t go,” he said, after I finished.  “If it’s going to make you this miserable, don’t go.  It’s not like you have no choice, is it?”
“My parents are going to kill me if I don’t go.  My Mum’s got her heart set on it,” I told him.
“So?  It’s your life, not hers.  Fuck what anyone else thinks.  If you go through life trying to make everybody else happy, all you’ll end up doing is making yourself miserable.”  I looked at him in surprise.  This sounded like good advice he was giving me.  Mike didn’t do this.
“There is one problem though,” he said, mulling over the beer left in the bottom of his pint glass.
“What’s that?” I asked.  He looked up at me meaningfully.
“What are you going to tell Jenny?”

I planned to tell her as soon as we met up that night.  After my chat with Mike, I called her and told her there was a change of plans and that I wanted to spend the evening in with her.  She didn’t argue at all; in fact she’d seemed happy about it.  I decided before I left Mike that I would bite the bullet and tell her what I was feeling as soon as I saw her outside the office where she was temping.  And that’s what I went to do.
I was there a quarter of an hour before she got out.  I’d even bought a bunch of flowers to try and ease the blow.  I don’t mean the blow of me telling her; I mean the blow from her fist when I broke the news.  Seriously though, I knew she wouldn’t take it well.  Jenny was an ambitious girl.  She had big plans to be a lawyer and have a career based in London.  She was only eighteen and she had her entire life planned out already.  That really freaked me out, and was probably a big part of how I felt.  But I didn’t want to lose her, even though she was becoming more and more the opposite of what I wanted to be.  It wasn’t that I loved her, not deep; obviously we meant a lot to each other but all it ever really boiled down to was that we had a fantastic sex life.
Jenny was absolutely stunning.  She could have been a model if she’d wanted, and I knew she’d had offers.  She had long blonde hair, long sexy legs and the biggest blue eyes you could imagine.  The first night we met it had been instant electricity and she’d taken me back to her place without much effort on either of our parts.  I could see she was special the first second I laid my eyes on her.  Her parents were divorced and she lived with her Mum.  I got on great with her as well, and she didn’t seem to mind me being there, no matter what we were up to.  So although I’d been thinking long and hard about what I was going to do with my life, I really didn’t want to say anything to Jenny until I was really sure.  And I knew full well that whatever balanced and objective reasoning I came up with, she would tear it apart and shoot it down in flames until I felt like a complete shit.
So it’s fair to say I was nervous when I saw her coming down the steps of the office.  It was partly the nerves that made me bite my tongue, but it was mainly the fact that Jenny was wearing the shortest skirt you could possibly imagine, and with those legs of hers and the dazzling smile she shot me as she’d started down the steps, all the words I had planned stuck in my throat.  She swept down those steps and into my arms and gave me a big kiss, and then hugged me as tightly as she could so I could feel her body pressing into mine.  I felt her breath against my cheek and then heard her whisper into my ear.
“Mum’s away tonight.  Why don’t you come and make me dinner and then we can have some fun.”
I wanted to tell her there and then, I really did, but that was an offer any red-blooded male couldn’t refuse.  I pulled back and looked at her, gazed into those amazing eyes, and heard my voice saying different words to the ones swirling around in my head.
“I got you some flowers.”

I remember that night like it was yesterday.  It started out great.  I made lasagna, and we shared a bottle of wine.  It didn’t take us long after that to head up to her bedroom.
Jenny was never one to hold back in bed.  She liked hard, loud sex so being the obliging sort of chap that I am, that’s what I gave her on a regular basis.  She was never quiet in bed but then again neither was I.  She didn’t just perform vocally either.  She was fit and agile and liked to fuck in different positions.  We must have spent a good hour going at it hard that night.  I did her in every position you can think of, mainly because I suspected it would be the last time I would ever get to do it.  Doggy style was always her favourite.  Jenny liked me going hard and deep into her and doggy style gave her just that.  It felt incredible fucking her like that and it quickly led to a natural conclusion.
She came hard; hearing her moan and feeling her climax tipped me over the edge as well.  It always did with Jenny.
We lay in bed together afterwards, getting our breath back, her arms and legs wrapped tightly around me.
“That was magic, Scott,” she whispered, kissing my chin.  She was right.  It was a special moment, even by our standards.  So quite why I chose that exact special moment to break my news to her is something I’ve never understood.  Maybe my subconscious mind thought that after such a high, the immediate low that I was about to impart would somehow be diminished.  Unfortunately, my subconscious mind is an idiot.
“I’m not going to go to Newcastle with you next month,” I said, staring blankly at her Artexed ceiling.  She didn’t take in what I said at first; I guess she was still in post-orgasmic bliss.
“When are you going?” she asked, rubbing the flat of her hand in circles on my chest.
“I’m not going at all.”  She got it that time.
“What?” She said it flatly and she lifted herself onto her elbow and pulled the covers of the bed against her chest, creating a deliberate divide between us.  No more physical contact.  Really subtle.
“What do you mean you’re not going?” she asked.  I could hear the strained tone of her voice already building.  I looked at her, struggling to find the words to defuse what I could see was rapidly going to become an explosive situation.  I didn’t do a very good job of finding them.
“It’s just…I can’t go.  It’s not right,” I said feebly.
“What are you talking about?  What do you mean it’s not right?  Not right how?”  She was frowning, trying to take it in.  I think she already knew what I was trying to say.  She must have suspected it for a while.  She wasn’t stupid, but like me, she didn’t want to throw everything away, even it was only superficial.  I tried to explain how I was feeling.
“It’s not what I want to do with my life, Jen.”
“But… we’ve got everything planned.  It’s all sorted.  You can’t just change your mind on a whim.”
“It’s not a whim.  I’ve been thinking it for ages.”  Her eyes narrowed suspiciously.
“You never said anything.”
“I know; I just didn’t know what to say.”  She sat up then.
“Well, you’ve fucking said it now, haven’t you?” she spat out angrily.  She must have been furious with me; she never swore.
“Oh come on, Jen,” I said, sitting up too and trying to reason with her face to face instead of her dominating the conversation by sitting over me.  She didn’t give me much chance to even things out.
“You pick tonight to tell me this?  Of all nights?  And I notice you only tell me after you’ve had sex.  Why not before, hmm?”
“I didn’t have a chance,” I said weakly.  It sounded like a crap excuse even to me.
“Oh, no,” she answered sarcastically.  “What about when we met up?  Or the walk home?  Or maybe when we were cooking?  You didn’t think you might slip it into the conversation then?”
“I didn’t want to spoil the mood.  You seemed so happy.”
“Oh yeah, and I’m fucking over the fucking moon now, aren’t I?  You were just making sure you got your end away before you said anything.  I’m not stupid, Scott.”
“I know you’re not,” I said, trying to placate her.
“Stop treating me like I am then!”  She was shouting by then, and it didn’t get any better for the rest of the night, I can tell you.  I tried to explain to her how I felt, how having my future planned out for me was cutting me up inside, but she’d really didn’t want to know.  Thinking about it now, maybe we both knew it was coming.  Maybe we let it escalate into a blazing row because that was the easiest way to break up.  Maybe.  Whatever the reason, the fact is that that was the last time I saw or heard from Jenny.  We ended it that night.  She went off to Newcastle, and I didn’t.  I still miss her sometimes.  Maybe it was more than lust after all.

1 comment:

  1. I'm enjoying this--the thing about Scott is that he's an unlikable protagonist. There have been a few in history, but he comes off as so relentlessly arrogant, when, despite his good looks and intelligence, he is really rather ordinary--particularly in his aspirations. That's what makes his fate so interesting and appealing. There's shadenfreude in knowing he will be in a situation he can't control, in that Danish hotel room, waiting for the shady character to arrive. I'm looking forward to reading more. It's a sharp, witty, sexy read.

    --Daniela (Maddarilke from Twitter)